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CAL’S ORIGINS

CAL can trace its origins back to 1919, not as an organized group but as an informal gathering of local writers in the office of Willard Hawkins, the editor and publisher of a small magazine called The Student Writer, which eventually evolved into Author and Journalist. The group called itself “the Loafers” and included early CAL members such as the mystery writer Ray Humphries and the western writer William MacLeod Raine. A group of women writers known as the “Nuts of the Roundtable” (a play not only on King Arthur’s legend but also on the writers who met at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City) was also meeting to workshop their writing and talk about marketing. These groups dissolved and some members met informally at the old Dutch Mill Cafeteria on Champa Street. Under the inspiration of students in a writing class taught by Blanche Young McNeal at the University of Denver, these informal groups came together to form the Colorado Authors’ League.

Those founding members of the Colorado Authors’ League included a number of notable writers. Among the officers Arthur Hawthorne Carhart (1892-1979) wrote western fiction and environmental nonfiction, publishing seventeen books between The Last Stand of the Pack (1929) and The National Forest (1959). Lenora Mattingly Weber (1915-1972) was a popular and prolific children’s author, the creator of the Beany Malone and Stacie Belford series, and had a series of books published in the Netherlands. William Mestrezat John’s novels included Seven Women (1929), Every Wise Woman (1931), Mingled Yarn (1933), and Circumstance (1935). David Raffelock established himself as a writing teacher with Conscious Short-Story Technique (1924), How to Write a Screenable Plot Into Your Fiction Story (1925), and The Creative Ability Developer (1931). On the Board of Directors William MacLeod Raines (1871-1954) published a host of western novels and nonfiction over the years. Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1896-1988) was an award-winning poet (High Passage, 1926; Westering, 1934, Trial by Time, 1946), essayist and Harper’s Magazine columnist (I Hate Thursdays, 1946), and editor of the Rocky Mountain Herald (1939-1988).

-Robert Root, CAL Historian, December 12, 2007

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